flaws of US democracy

Topics: Supreme Court of the United States, Democracy, Deliberative democracy Pages: 5 (1784 words) Published: March 19, 2014
Although Democracy in the United States serves as a model for many other nations, it has many flaws that choke its true potential. Some authors, like Carl Schmitt would argue that from its outset, democracy in America is inherently flawed, while others like Thomas Jefferson believe that simple adjustments should be made for a more efficient democracy. It is important for the flaws and challenges that plague democracy in American democracy to be addressed, as there are many. It is particularly important to address those challenges if they are some of the essential components of a true democracy. Open discussion, for example, is an important part of democracy, yet here in the United States we have fallen short of the standard. Another challenge U.S democracy faces is the fact that the government is not as representative of the people as it should be. One of the central components of democracy is supposed to be open discussion and deliberation. In fact, Habermas argued that this is the foundation that a democracy should be built upon. In his writings, he goes in depth about the theory of communicative action, which explores the role of communication. It is used to achieve mutual understanding and he explains that in communicating with others we hope to reach a consensus. Carl Schmitt had the same idea and felt that discussion is a fundamental principle of democracy. Schmitt suggest that the essence of parliament is “public deliberation of argument and counterargument, public debate and public discussion (Schmitt 34)”. When members of parliament come together they should have open minds and be prepared to exchange rational arguments. Democracy in America is does not meet the reasonable standard that both Habermas and Schmitt have set. To Schmitt the reality of democracy in America involves talk but no real discussion. Members of parliament are not in any real pursuit of truth and justice, and discussion has just become “merely a façade” with no real meaning (Schmitt 49). There isn’t a forum for open discussion with mutual reason giving, and most things happen behind doors and the public is not able to take part in these discussions. Some of the reasons for this are the paucity of demands put on people as citizens. Habermas argues that compared to other democracies, liberal or constitutional democracies like the one in the United Sates, demands very little. Citizen’s main duty is voting and they are not concerned with much else, therefore they themselves don’t get involved with deliberation nor do they demand it from their representatives. As far as politicians are concerned, Schmitt concludes that their lack of deliberation and meaningful discourse is due to their preoccupation with trying to win. The problem is that interest groups who want to promote their own opinions capture the whole system; they are not concerned with being persuaded by other ideas and arguments Without open discussion American democracy suffers. Firstly, open discussion guarantees truth and justice (Schmitt 49). According to Schmitt, historically, it “seemed to be essential and indispensable”(Schmitt 49). With open discussion force is not used but the weight of the reasoning is the ultimate decider and justice prevails, people cannot take advantage of one another if proper reasoning is used. He also mentions that without open discussion there is a risk of backroom deals, and a “small group” of people making decisions that affect many without deliberation or public knowledge (Schmitt 50). For Habermas, the issue is if there is no open discussion, then legitimacy is not conferred to decisions, and there is no “fair bargaining process (Habermas 24)”. If people are not given reasons and justifications for decisions then there is no moral weight to them, and the losing side may not be able to accept the decisions as legitimate. In democracies decisions making should not just be an empty formality based on “previous convergence of settles ethical...
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